Owner C.N. Ray Dies of Cancer

His horses won two runnings of the Breeders' Cup Sprint

C.N. Ray, who won consecutive runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) with Lit de Justice and Elmhurst, died Nov. 12 of cancer. The Detroit native, who founded Sea Ray Boats, was 84.

Ray, who owned 400-acre Evergreen Farm near Paris, Ky., was one of the more active owners in the Breeders’ Cup from 1986 through 1997. Eight runners made nine starts in Breeders’ Cup events in the Evergreen silks and came away with two wins, a second, a third, and a fourth. Ray also was the breeder of a Breeders’ Cup starter.

Lit de Justice’s victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in track-record-equaling time at Woodbine made history and came a year after the horse had run third in the Sprint. Trained by Jenine Sahadi, Lit de Justice was the first Breeders’ Cup winner conditioned by a woman. Lit de Justice was voted a 1996 Eclipse Award as best sprinter. In 1997, Elmhurst, owned by Ray and Sahadi and trained by her, captured the Sprint.

Fastness and Sham Say were the two other Evergreen runners who hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup. Fastness ran second in the 1995 Mile (gr. IT), and Sham Say finished fourth in the historic battle between Personal Ensign and Winning Colors in the 1988 Distaff (gr. I)

Although Ray campaigned homebreds and horses he had purchased as weanlings and yearlings, he achieved his greatest success with runners he bought in training. Lit de Justice, Elmhurst, Fastness, and Sham Say were all purchased in training. Fastness, in addition to his runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, won five graded stakes, including the 1995-96 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT).

Ray's other horses that won big after being purchased in training include Mill Native, who set a course record in the 1988 Arlington Million (gr. IT) in his first start after being acquired, plus Delighter, Pattern Step, and Rainbow Dancer.

Delighter won the 1988 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT) and Pattern Step captured that year’s Hollywood Oaks (gr. I). Rainbow Dancer took the 1997 Hollywood Turf Handicap (gr. IT) and the Oak Tree Turf Championship Stakes (gr. IT).

Ray, who sold Evergreen several years ago, campaigned about 20 stakes winners. His survivors include his wife, Carol.